June 5, 2013

This is a re-post written by CHMP senior Fellow Liz Seegert for Health Callings Jobs that Matter.

In a unique writing course at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City, nurses are relearning to “open up” while also improving their communication skills. The lessons learned at the “Narrative Writing for Nurses” course, taught by two former editors of the “American Journal of Nursing,” can be practiced at home to relieve stress and engage in self-discovery. It can also boost your academic writing skills.Narrative Writing Liz Seegert

How the writing helps

“Many nursing students have strong academic need for remedial writing and making themselves understood, says James Steubenrauch, adjunct instructor and Senior Fellow at Hunter’s Center for Health, Media and Policy. “We try to help them become better writers by using creative or artistic means to engage them in the process.”

Students begin each class with a creative writing prompt and also keep a daily journal. They may react to a poem or piece of nonfiction, or be asked to describe an event. Students write in different genres, and share their work with classmates. Although some are initially reluctant to open up, eventually most find it cathartic, says co-instructor Joy Jacobson.

She says that by bypassing some of the traditional methods of teaching writing, “we’re trying to engage them where art engages people, where music and poetry engage people, and we’re doing that for all the reasons a nursing program would want their students to be better writers, better students, and in fact, better nurses.”

Cerusala Shiba, BSN, decided to enroll in the narrative writing program last term to address her struggle with writing, especially with grammar. It provided much more than a basic “how-to.” (continue here